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Boise State is a Vital Economic Driver Across Idaho

By: Sherry Squires   Published 10:47 am / September 19, 2017

Idaho’s largest public university drove $667.2 million of the state’s economy in fiscal year 2015 and created 6,987 jobs across the state, according to a report being compiled in time for the legislative session by Tripp Umbach, a leading economic analysis group that has completed more than 150 similar studies in the past 20 years for universities and health care organizations.

It is expected, when the report is finalized, that the economic impact of Boise State University’s alumni base will exceed $1 billion on its own.

“At a time when government investment in education is measured and quantified by return on the investment, this study makes it clear that Idaho taxpayers are, indeed, getting their bang for the buck,” Boise State President Bob Kustra said. “We are serious about our role in improving the quality of education and fueling the economic engines of this state at the same time that we produce some of our state’s finest citizens.”

President Kustra discussed Boise State’s economic impact at his second annual State of the University address to the Boise business community on Sept. 19.

That return is felt across Idaho. The study shows that university operations generated $34 million in state and local taxes in 2015.

Though Boise State enrolls about one-third of all students in Idaho’s public higher education system, per-student state funding lags for Boise State students compared with those who choose other public Idaho universities. But the money that is spent from state coffers has an immediate return: The $81 million in appropriated funds and special program dollars from the state of Idaho saw a return in direct economic activity of more than $8 for every $1 invested. That number is likely to more than triple when the alumni impact is factored in.

The reason Boise State’s graduates are so critically important to the economic vitality of the state is because 73 percent of Boise State University graduates stay in Idaho after graduation to work and raise their families. Boise State’s alumni information shows that while nearly 80 percent of in-state students remain in Idaho five years after they graduate, some 45 percent of those students who came from out-of-state remain, as well — a significant “brain gain” for the state.

Some details from the study are final: Boise State University’s rapidly expanding research efforts drove $35.4 million in economic activity in 2015 and created 210 Idaho jobs. The university’s capital projects created $57.2 million in economic activity and supported and sustained 431 jobs.

The numbers reflect the economic power of effective public-private partnerships, including:

  • A two-decade collaboration on growing engineering programs with Micron Technology that resulted in the largest philanthropic donation in Boise State history;
  • A unique-in-Idaho partnership with a national educational housing company to build the 650-bed Honors College and Sawtooth Hall;
  • And the broad partnership of Boise State, local tech companies, the Idaho Department of Labor and the Idaho State Board of Education’s Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM), which have combined efforts in recent years to dramatically boost the number of in-demand computer science graduates, launch a new Ph.D. program in computing and a cybersecurity partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory, and relocate the entire computer science department to the heart of the booming tech center in downtown Boise.

The full report is expected later this fall.